There was no ribbon to cut, no gala celebration – not even a cupcake with a candle – to dedicate the austere, almost sterile-looking new office building, as the Harford Township Supervisors rang in the New Year with their municipal colleagues across the state on January 3rd to (re-)organize themselves. The building, costing nearly $300,000, has only 3 rooms (plus a restroom), is sealed, with shatter-proof glass, radiant heating in the floors, and air conditioning, all to protect the Township's records … and its secretary.
Harford's leadership in their new space, from left, Supervisors Robert Rex, Dustin Walker, Kyle Payne, and Secretary Carolyn Jennings
The Township secretary will have control of entry doors from within the office. Her office still isn't furnished, however, nor have any records yet been moved into the new structure. In fact, the only furniture in the building so far is a large table of local ash with a gleaming acrylic finish made by Bob Goodrich. The extra measures in the building's construction are intended to protect from the sort of damage experienced when the Gibson Township building was destroyed by fire in January 2019; and from the sort of damage Harford's old office sustained in a hail storm in May of 2018.
The first order of business was a prescribed list of measures that establishes the township's organization for the new year. There weren't any notable changes. Brad Millard was appointed to another 5-year term on the board of the Harford Municipal Authority. Mr. Millard is now Vice Chair of the Authority; the Chair, Rob Supancik, is stepping down, and his replacement was named later in the meeting. The Supervisors also postponed a decision on naming a chair for the Vacancy Board, pending discussion with incumbent Dotty Hagenbuch. Otherwise, Dustin Walker retains the Chair of the Board of Supervisors; his Vice remains Robert Rex. The third Supervisor, Kyle Payne, retains his post as Road Superintendent. The estimable Carolyn Jennings, of course, continues as Township Secretary/Treasurer, bonded for $2 million.
Except for this month, the meeting schedule is the same: third Tuesday of each month, beginning at 7:00pm in the (new) Township Building. The Supervisors will not meet again this month, instead conducting regular business immediately following the reorganization.
The business meeting started off with a detailed review of the Township's insurance coverage (some 30 pages) with Jeff Kyle of DGK, based in Factoryville and agents for many municipalities in the area. The Township has "blanket" coverage for most of its property, but the insurance carriers would like more information from JHA engineers on the sewer system, for which DGK has no way to value its property. Mr. Kyle also said that workmen's compensation premiums for the fire company could be expected to rise when renewed next summer.
Speaking of the fire company, the Supervisors signed the annual contract under which the Township agrees to fork over 1 mill in taxes in exchange for a promise that the volunteers will continue to put out fires.
The Supervisors continue to track spending from the funds provided under the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP). Secretary Jennings reported that one more resident has applied for relief of sewer and water charges to the tune of $680, which was granted. Mr. Walker also noted that the work to protect the domestic water line through Leslie Creek in the village and to stabilize the bank, which damage occurred during the flood of 2018, has been completed. The cost of that project – about $31,000 – was paid for in part from ARP funds, but mostly from money left over after that flood provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The Supervisors went on to appoint Shawn Krause to replace Rob Supancik on the Board of the Harford Municipal Authority. The Authority will be meeting soon to reorganize itself, and to choose a new chair with Mr. Supancik's resignation.
The Township will be soliciting bids to remodel a storage building, damaged during that hail storm of May 2018. A proposal by the contractor that put up the new Township building indicated that the cost would be over $20,000, thus requiring a formal bid procedure.
And, at the request of the Township's sewer engineers, the Supervisors agreed to purchase 3 new pumps for the system. There was a hint that the old store property at the corner of Market Street in the village might need one; that property has been an empty lot for several years, but may have been purchased from the bank that owned it and ripe for development.
With nothing more to occupy them for the rest of the month, the Supervisors adjourned until their February meeting, scheduled for the 15th, beginning at 7:00pm. One can hope for more comfortable chairs for the audience in the new building.
The reorganization meeting of the Oakland Borough Council was called to order by re-elected mayor Randy Glover. Elected council members Robert Muiter and Valerie Senese were duly sworn, leaving two additional vacant seats on the council. The agenda, which also included regular business for the month, was adopted with minor changes. Ms. Senese was appointed as Council President with Gary Boughton being appointed Vice President and Mr. Muiter being appointed President Pro Tem. Council motioned that the meetings for 2022 would continue to be held on the second Thursday of every month at 7:00pm at the Oakland Borough building. Concerning the two vacant seats, no interested persons were present, nor were there any nominations made.
Board and Committee appointments were as follows:
- Vacancy Board Chair - Carol Trevarthan
- Community Development Committee Chair - Heather Krayeski
- Finance Committee Chair - Robert Muiter
- Parks Committee Chair - Gary Boughton
- Volunteer Committee Chair - Brad Krayeski
- The Codes Committee was dissolved as the ordinance codification is nearly complete and all further decisions will be made as a Council and not a committee
Randy Glover was reinstated as the contact and supervisor for the Department of Public Works and Brad Krayeski was reinstated as the contact for the Codes Department. The Council voted to continue its retainer with Delta EAS for needed services, retain John Martin as Borough solicitor, and continue to work with JHA Companies and Susquehanna County COG for any Sewage Enforcement needs. All current municipal employees were retained and pay rates were established for the record per the adopted 2022 budget.
At this time, the general business portion of the meeting commenced. Treasurer Rhonda Parfitt gave the beginning-of-year bank balances as a treasurer's report, along with a modest bill list to be paid. A police report was provided via a call log consisting of 38 hours of service for the month of December. Included in the log were a domestic, a vandalism incident, a neighbor dispute, a suspicious person, a quad on the roadway, a disorderly conduct, and 20 hours of patrolling.
Most noteworthy in the DPW report was that the long-awaited State Street (State Route 171) SLIDE project had gone out to bid and was on schedule for May-November, 2022. The project will repair the section of road from Chestnut Street down the hill to the bridge. Sealed bids were opened with the Council hoping to be able to purchase a new tractor and attachments, but upon opening the bids it was clear that there was some misunderstanding by bidders as to what the Borough was requesting. Bids ranged from $25,000 to almost $90,000. Some changes were made to the specifications and bid notice and the decision was made to run the new bid notice with the intent of opening bids at the next regular meeting in February.
Another long-awaited project came to a close when the Council made one last change to the ordinance codification before approving it for advertisement, to be formally adopted at the next meeting after public comments and questions about the code are received.
Regarding new business, the updated fee schedule suggested by the Office of Open Records to procure documents for a Right to Know request was approved, as was the advertisement for the Borough's Deputy Tax Collector position. Additionally, the Council of five members agreed that it would start a petition per the Borough Code to begin the process of reducing the number of seats available on the Council. One vacancy has existed since November 2020, and with only two people being elected for the four open seats in 2022, the Council fears it will have a difficult time getting a quorum for monthly meetings. It was noted that the Council had made extensive efforts to fill the seats, even going door knocking, and there were no interested individuals in the small borough.
Ms. Senese adjourned the meeting and retired the Council into executive session. The Council will next meet on February 10th at 7:00pm at the Oakland Borough Building.
Two meetings in one week, and together they didn't span a half hour, as the Great Bend Borough Council sprang off to a quick start in 2022. And they pushed the project to refurbish Wiegand Memorial Park a step further down the road.
On Monday, January 3, along with virtually every other municipality in Pennsylvania, Council reorganized itself back to where it ended 2021: all the same members in place, with Rick Franks presiding; Jerry MacConnell will be his vice. Sheila Guinan remains Secretary/Treasurer, bonded at $300,000, and Frank O'Connor will enter his umpteenth year as Borough solicitor. The meeting schedule remains the same: 7:00pm on the first Thursday of each month.
Which this month was January 6th, whose major business was to advertise for bids for the park renovation project, using a package of specifications prepared by Delta Engineers. Construction is expected to begin in May, with completion by the end of summer. The firm supplying the new playground equipment (at last year's prices) will install that part. The whole project could cost $70,000-$80,000, much of it funded by a matching grant from the state Department of Community Economic Development (DCED). The matching part has been provided by the generosity of local residents who have been contributing to the fund for over a year.
Other contributions are paying for "Hometown Heroes" banners that will go up along Main Street next summer. Ms. Guinan said some 30 of them, with hardware, have arrived, at a total cost of $2,755.
Another $1,200 or so was spent on a new computer and printer for the town's police department. Chief Jon Record said that, of the 103 hours billed for the prior month, a substantial portion was spent setting up the new equipment. Mr. Record – and Ms. Guinan, who also participated – reported the collection of 4 carloads of toys during Operation Blue Elves in cooperation with the Toys N Tots programs sponsored by the local VFW and American Legion. Mr. Record also issued letters of commendation to officers Katie Stanziale and Matt Granick for their participation in the event.
Chief Record also offered a breakdown of the types of calls handled by his department in 2021. Of the 33 categories, the largest by far was traffic stops, at 322. A distant second, at 62, were "911 hangups." There was one gunshot report, 2 assaults, 1 littering, 1 public drunkenness, 11 suspicious vehicles (and 5 suspicious persons) … among other things. Interesting reading. The police also assisted on 14 emergency medical service calls and 5 fire calls.
Liz Landes phoned in her report, in which she asked for permission to put on another skating party in Memorial Park in early February, perhaps with a bonfire. She asked Council for a donation of $50 for refreshments, which they decided not to decide until she asks for reimbursement next month. In any event, Dan Stroka reported that the rink is ready for this weekend's expected freeze-up.
As an afterthought, Council signed an agreement with Adams Cable to continue providing service in the Borough.
And with that, Council adjourned until Thursday, February 3, 2022 beginning at 7:00pm in the Borough Building at Elizabeth & Franklin Streets.